I wish that you could see
Deep inside of me
All of the pain
And all of the hurt
That you have caused me
I wish that you could know
Everything that I think
But am too afraid to speak
Maybe you would change
Maybe you would care
Or maybe you already know
And care too little
To even pretend
I have been through Baltimore City’s Central Booking twice, both for the same charge. The only way I can describe this place is hell on Earth. Literally. I honestly believe that hell must be more pleasant than BCCBIC. I have been through quite a few central bookings, and I have seen quite a few of them on various reality shows about jails. None of them even come close to be comparable to the atrocious conditions that exist in Baltimore.
Back in July of 2005, my husband and I were in town copping. I was pregnant and on the wait list for CAP (Center for Addiction and Pregnancy). I was told in no uncertain terms to not try to quite using heroin cold turkey. As bad as my habit was, there was a very real possibility that the withdraws could easily kill my daughter. (I did, however, quite using coke and crack the moment that I found out that I was pregnant). Anyway, we had copped from our usual spot, and the normal amount that we would buy as a gate shot, but the shit was just off that day. It was abundantly clear that this dope was not going to hold us long enough to go out boosting. We had $25 left, and needed gas. We knew of a spot off of Loudon Ave. that had sixes. We figured that we would get three of these, and still have $7 left for gas.
We pulled on to the street and found the dude with the shit and told him that we wanted three. He instructed us to pull into the alley. This alley is a L shaped alley, meaning that no one driving down Edmonson Avenue (which is a main road of sorts) cannot see down it. He came up to our car hit us, then hit the guy behind us. We pulled out of the other side of the alley onto the one-way portion of Wildwood Parkway (for theses of you who frequently read my blog, this was the same on-way section of Wildwood that we were attempting to give Gotti a ride to when we were pulled over and he left his loaded gun in my car). We pulled out and we forced to sit at a red light before we could turn on to Edmonson Avenue.
Before we had a chance to put the pills up, before we had a chance to blink really, there was a car blocking us in, and four Knockers at the car. The were ridding down Edmonson with their doors open, and saw two white people on wildwood and jumped out on us. “Why don’t you make it easy and just give it to us,” the one said. Considering that A) they were just in my husband’s hand and B) a lot of times when they talk to you like this, if you just give it up without a fight, they will let you go, my husband gave it to them, laughing with disbelief at the situation. “I like this dude,” the cop noted.
Instantly they pulled us both out of the car and cuffed us with zip ties. “You all just saved the white boy behind you,” they smirked at us, “we just saw him swallow his shit.” Fucking fantastic. “Those pills were just for me,” my husband pleaded with them. “Please don’t arrest my wife. She’s pregnant. I stopped without telling her. They aren’t her’s.” “You’re pregnant?”, one of them asked me. I stated that indeed I was. “Oh well, they should have you out in no time.”
They put us into the car with two of them, while the other two officers followed us in my car to the Southwestern District police station. As we drove by Loudon, we saw two more cops messing with the guy who served us and another dude. At first they put me into this weird ass bull pen, and then they moved me to a private cell in the back of the police station. It was really, really dark back there. I wasn’t there long before they yanked me out and took me outside and put me into one side of a divided paddy wagon. My husband was on the other side with the men. “Whoa, whoa!”, a cop started screaming, running out of the station. “She’s pregnant! You can’t take her in the wagon.” There are no dealt belts in the wagon, and they notoriously drive very erratically with the intent to throw the inmates all over the place. They pulled me out of the wagon, and put me in a cop car. “Do you need to go to the hospital?”, the officer driving the car implored. “Umm, does that mean that I don’t have to go to bookings? Or that that time counts as part of my 24 hours?”, I asked. “No,” he told me, “your 24 hours starts when we do your property intake, which wouldn’t happen until you get to bookings. After you leave the hospital.” “Oh hell no!”, I stated, “let’s go then.” (For those of you confused, very shortly prior to my arrest Baltimore City got into a lot of trouble with the FBI due to the conditions in BCCBIC. One of the biggest issues was hat people would sit for days before they were ever taken to see a commissioner. This meant days before they were told what they were charged with, and what their bail would be. By law, you have to be taken to see the commissioner within 24 hours, or they have to release you.)
So here I was, approximately 3-4 hours after my arrest, and I was just now headed to Bookings. It took us about 15 minutes to get to Eager Street. The cops pulled up and walked me in. Now, mind you that this was far from my first arrest. I looked around as I walked in, and all I could think was, “This is gonna suck. Be time.”
Continued in BCCBIC Part Two
I tend to try to stay away from anything political in this blog. I feel that it is not really the place for that. With that being Sid, however, I could not refrain from commenting on the tragic death of Mike Brown. I have heard people (a lot of them on Fox News) complain that they are “tired of hearing about race” and are angry that “blacks are turning this into a race issue”. Really? You’re sick of hearing about racism, this week? How do you think blacks, Hispanics, Middle Easterners, and women feel?
The problem, the real tragedy is that what happened to Mike Brown is common. People are criticizing the people in Ferguson for rioting. This is perhaps not the correct method, but you get to the point where you strike back with force. Tupac once said, “if you know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day, they open the door to let me see the party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throw in’ food around, tellin’ me there’s no food. Every day, I’m standing outside tryin’ to sing my way in- ‘We are weak, please let us in. We’re weak, please let us in.’ After about a week, the song is gonna change to, ‘We’re hungry, we need some food.’ After two, three weeks, it’s like, ‘Give me some of the food! I’m breaking down the door.’ After a year, it’s like, ‘I’m pickin’ the lock, commin’ through the door blastin’.’ It’s like, ‘I’m hungry.’ You reached your level, you don’t want any more. We asked ten years ago, we were asking with the Panthers, we were asking in the Civil Rights Movement. Now, those who were asking are all dead or in jail, now what we gonna do? And shouldn’t we be angry?” This of course was a statement from over 20 years ago. That anger has only multiplied.
It is the same with sexism. I don’t know what is worse, that there is racism and sexism, or that there are people out there who think that there isn’t. There gets to be appoint where you get tired of rising above the hate, of turning the other cheek. Thus the riots. Too many young black men are shot, while unarmed by police. What have learned since Rodney King? Anything?
I once wrote an article called, “Addiction – The Great Equalizer”. As an addict and as a woman, I feel the hate, the outrage, and the pain of the residents of Ferguson. I have faced sexism at every turn. You are stupid because you are a woman. If ypu prove that you are not, you are being a show off. You are obviously incapable of running a job, but if you take control, you are bossy, a bitch, or worst yet, you want to be a man.
I have also faced racial profiling as an addict in all black neighborhoods in Baltimore. You are automatically pulled over being white because you must be a drug addict. Never mind the whites who actually do live there, or who are visiting friends. Once you are pulled over, they instantly bring back up. They search the car no matter what. You are a criminal, thus ypu must be committing a crime.
It sucks, but I only face this in ghetto areas. Blacks, Hispanics, middle Easterners, they face it everywhere. Ferguson was just a sad,tragic reminder of how little progress we have actually made.
Every Sunday night, AMC had a “Breaking Bad Binge” marathon. This is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time, so I just HAD to watch. It doesn’t matter that I have seen every episode three or four times, it is just one of those shows. One of the episodes that aired last night was one where Jessie has to go over to the house of a couple of meth addicts who had robbed one of his dealers, Skinny Pete. He goes to their house, gun drawn, ready to recoup his money. Upon breaking into the house and searching for the husband and wife duo, who are not home at that time, he discovers their son. The boy is filthy, watching an infomercial on knives because they do not get any other channels on their old ass television set. The first thing he says to Jessie is, “I’m hungry.” It is heartbreaking and difficult to watch.
Eventually, the little boy’s parents arrive home with meth and dope (and an ATM that they boosted out of. a continence store). Jessie repremands the parents telling them to give the child a bath and a hot meal, on which the mother says, “Give me a hit and I’ll be any kind of mother you want me to be.” Jessie ends up calling the police when he leaves and places the child on the front porch so that he can be taken into foster care.
As a woman who was in active addiction and a mother at the same time, I had very mixed feelings about this episode. Not just “Breaking Bad” either, there is a general consensus that addicts are horrible parents. Now, I do believe that there are some people who completely neglect their children in order to get high. Just the other day a couple in Baltimore County who was arrested after a maid at the hotel they were staying in walked into their room to clean it and found what she thought was a two year old alone, laying on the kitchen. The parents were out looking for another hotel. The child was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that even though the doctors, nurses, cops, and the maid all thought that he was two, he was actually six. He was just that malnorished. I do not know if this couple was using drugs. Sadly, there are a lot of people who neglect and abuse their kids, and addiction is not to blame.
Most of the addicts that I know have children. Not all of them have full custody of them, but all of them would die for their children. I have heard stories of people hiding drugs on their children or spending their kids food money to get high, but these stories are not the norm. These are just the stories that stand out.
When I was in active addiction, my kids never missed a meal. I never sold the food stamps and bought drugs, leaving no money to feed them. They never missed school. They were always bathed, got new clothes, dolls, toys, whatever. Usually I would stay home with the kids while my husband went to cop. We didn’t get high in front of them.
I truly believe that this is more normal. Most couples that we knew where both people got high, and they had kids, would keep one parent at home with the kids while the other went out to get money or the drugs. Addicts are not the monsters that people portray them to be. We are people which have a disease, but we still love our children.
Most addicts with children are motivated by their children to get sober. I do feel that I am most definatley a better mother sober. Most of that has to do with I have more energy to go above and beyond. I do not need dope to be well enough to play on the playground. I do not have to hold back vomit if I make them breakfast before I get well. You see, I may have done everything before, but it was almost as though Imwas just going through the motions. Now, I can put 100% of my energy into my children.
I would never, ever begin to suggest that it is ideal for a parent to be an addict. I am just saying that despite episodes like. “Breaking Bad” that portray addicted parents as these monsters who will just leave their small children alone for hours or days on end. My children have never been home alone a day or hour in their lives. Drugs never clouded or inhibited my love for my children. I feel that most parents, whether addicted to drugs or not, would die for their children at the drop of a hat if it was needed.
By now, most everyone has heard that Robin Williams died on Monday at age 63. His death was a tragic loss, as he was a comedic genius. That sense of loss was further compounded by the fact that he killed himself. I was hit especially hard by his death as a person who has struggled greatly with depression for her entire life. I have contemplated suicide on quite a few occasions.
I credit my children with saving my life. In fact on early morning, around 5 am, I was particularly down. After sobbing for almost no reason for the better part of an hour, I realized that my life will be nothing more than a vicious cycle of being uber depressed and just sort of down. I made up my mind that this was too painful. I wasn’t going to live like this anymore. I was just so tired of being depressed, run-down, anxious, and filled with self-doubt. I scurried about the bedroom until I found one of my husbands razor blades. As I picked it up and placed it to my wrist, ready to end my meaningless suffering, my son (who was about 18 months at the time) awoke screaming. It was divine intervention. I was instantly snapped out of it, remembering that I was a mother and had two young children (both under the age of 5 at that time) who depended on me. Honestly, I think the ghost of my father woke up my son to save my life. If he had woken up even 5 minutes (or 2 minutes) later, I would have already been bleeding profusely. My son quite literally saved my life.
Williams’ death was a painful and blunt reminder that you never really know what is going on behind the surface of a person. Robin Williams was a man whose talents entertained multiple generations of my family. My husband and I loved his very grown-up and shockingly raunchy HBO stand up. My children adored him in “Aladdin” and “Peter Pan”, my mother watched “Mork and Mindy” as a young woman. He could seamlessly blend from goofball flicks like “Flubber” to feel good family fun a la “Mrs. Doubtfire” to very dramatic, brilliant adult flicks like, “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting”. Sadly, it seems like Williams spent so much time and energy uplifting the rest of the world, making us laugh till we cried, that he had no energy left for himself.
Shepard Smith of Fox News called Williams a “such a coward” on air while reporting his suicide. He talked about how selfish he was, questioning, “it’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known. And yet, something inside you is so horrible – or you’re such a coward – or whatever the reason – that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.” Obviously, many people who heard this were outraged.
People who commit suicide are not doing it out of an act of selfishness, rather they feel that they are so horrible, such a drain on those around them that the selfish thing to do would be to stay alive and continue to pull their loved ones down. This is obviously not true, but to a person with a mental illness such as bi-polar disorder (which Williams suffered from) or schizophrenia, or even super depression and anxiety disorders and PTSD (all three of which I suffer from, this idea seems very true.
Depression gets you to where you hate yourself to the point where you are incapable of seeing any redeeming qualities in yourself. It seems to be a ludicrous idea that anyone could love you at all. After over a decade with my husband, I still have trouble believing that he loves me. I ask him and responds with, “Of course I love you. You know this. I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t love you with all of my heart.” While that seems like a very logical statement, the reality is that no, I don’t know that he loves me. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I continually push people away and sever relationships simply by not making the effort to keep up the friendship because I have been hurt and betrayed too many times to trust anyone. These real events, combined with my own paranoia and mental illness just doesn’t allow me to think that anyone could actually like me. Why would they? I feel as though I have nothing to offer. Robin Williams may have felt something very similar to this. Kurt Cobain once said, “the most depressing thing is having everything that you ever wanted, everything that was supposed to make you happen, and still be totally miserable. Then you know that you will never be happy, that you are the problem.” I can see how that could be.
Ultimately we will never know exactly what sent Robin Williams off the deep end and made him feel that ending his life was the only solution. I read an interview with Williams recently, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Clearly, whatever was going on inside his head didn’t feel like a temporary problem.
The death of Robin Williams is terribly sad, and leaves a whole in this world. He was a comedic genius. His work spoke to all races, all genders, all generations. He could do it all. I just hope when people think about his suicide, they take it as a lesson that behind anyone’s smile or bright demeanor can be a lot of unknown pain and anguish. R.I.P. Robin Williams, you will truly be missed.
My time as a thief or a booster, happened much like my drug addiction. Very slow, and then all of the sudden it was a daily event. I do not, under any circumstances, recommend that a person goes out and makes their money by boosting from stores. Yeah, I was making a thousand plus a day easy, but I also have five theft convictions and an attempted theft. To put that in perspective, I have only one CDS conviction and I got high for much, much longer than I boosted for. These of course, are just the convictions, not the arrests. It just isn’t worth it. Fast money can lead to fast jail time.
Anyway, one day my husband and I were at the Hilton pawn shop, Shine Corner, selling something which I can not recall at the moment. While we were there Aaron saw this guy that he was locked up with at the Howard County Detention Center. They traded numbers and off we went to cop. The next day or shortly after, the guy called us asking if we could take him to the store to boost. Of course, he would be paying us. We picked him up and took him to a grocery store where he proceeded to steal, I kid you not, Monostats. Yes, feminine itch cream. The Monostat 7 were worth $7 each and I think he got maybe 10 at one store and 15 at another.
We started to pick him up daily. Sometimes we would take him and a friend of his, and they would both pay us. We started to learn what items you could sell (pretty much any name brand pharmaceutical). Thing was, this dude took FOREVER in each store. I’m talking like 45 minutes to an hour each. It was such a pain in the ass.
One day he didn’t call. We waited for awhile, getting sicker by the minute, until we said, “Fuck it”. We left determined to figure something out. I told my husband that I would take the shit my damn self. We pulled up to a store and I told him to park on the curb. I went in and grabbed a cart. I filled the cart up with clothes and other big things. I went into the pharmacy and found the Prilosecs. I didn’t have my “boosting bag” with me, as this was the first time I was doing this, so I grabbed four 42 counts shoved them under the clothes and went to the dog food isle. I looked around, put them in my bag, and got the fuck out of there.
When I got into the car and we pulled off onto the highway without a hitch, I was shocked at how simple and easy it was. I also had a huge adrenaline rush. We went to the pawn shop and sold the prilos for $11 each. We had enough for two pills each and four to go with the three we had for gas. (Remember, gas was only $2 a gallon in 2004, so you could put $7 in gas.)
That was all she wrote. I loved it. I loved the thrill of getting away with it, but most of all, I loved that I could get money easily whenever I wanted. I had the car, so I didn’t need a ride, and I could get my own money, thank you very much.
After that day, my husband and I would go out like three times a day making a few hundred each time. It was much easier than baby formula. Especially since I had two theft arrests for stealing baby formula. I was awaiting the court dates for these, so they had not yet become convictions.
Theft, like anything else, lost it’s thrill, it’s sense of fun. There were undercover security guards all over the place that knew who I was and were trying to catch me. It was a constant cat and mouse game. Certain stores would call security as soon as I stepped in the door. Sometimes, the police would call me over shit that I didn’t even do, trying to hem me up.
It started to be so hot at so many stores near by that we would have to drive far as shit to find stores where they didn’t know us. When I went to jail at the end of 2006 and got clean for a few years, I was too hot. I racked up all those convictions that I previously mentioned between 2004 and 2006. I also violated probation like three or four times.
I would most certainly NOT glamorize stealing or recommend that anyone go out and choose to make their money this way. I mean, it is better than robbing banks or robbing someone at gun point. In Maryland under $1,000 is a misdemeanor, where as anything involving a firearm is obviously a felony. Yeah, you may make $300 in ten minutes, but after a couple of slaps on the wrist, you are down for the count for six to eighteen months. You aren’t making shit in jail. Trust me, when I came home from jail, I was happy to wait tables for tips.
But You’re So Smart
One sweltering hot August night, Aaron and I were up at his brother’s house. We were all sitting outside in their West Virginia garage drinking, and listening music with my sister -in-law, her brother and his wife, and my mother-in-law. At around one in the morning or so, after hours and hours of drinking, my mother-in-law turned to me and said, “Amy, you are so, so smart, I will never understand why you make such dumb choices sometimes.” Touché mama!
She is not wrong, though, and she didn’t mean her remark as an insult, more as an observation. Her issue (and the vast majority of societies issue) is that I am seem as an anomaly. I have been asked in all seriousness why I make such bad depictions when I have an above average intelligence. He easy answer is : the drugs, but that is a cop out answer, and in all honesty, is not really the answer that they want. What people want to know is why I let myself develop a heroin addiction when I am so smart. Why did I throw so much away when I seemingly had everything going for me?
Even today, in the year 2014 people seem to have a hard time doing anything other than equating addiction with stupidity. Only an extreme lack of intelligence would allow someone to ruin their own life over and over again. I think that comes from the fat that it is easier and ultimately very comforting in allowing yourself to say that you could never develop a drug problem because you are far to intelligent to do so. Facing the reality that you could become an addict as easily as getting in a bad car accident and being prescribed heavy pain pills and becoming physically addicted to them is ultimately terrifying to people. Especially people who hate to surrender any control at all. Addiction takes the control of your own life out of your hands and into the hands of your drug of choice.
Looking back, the answer as to how I could have let myself become a heroin addict while being “so smart”, is that I was too smart for my own good. After my first arrest, which was sort of a fluke in which me, my sister, and my husband (who was just a friend who I saw occasionally at that point) were arrested for theft at a grocery store. Since my car was left in the parking lot of the Korean shopping center where we were pulled over and arrested, my mom had to pick me and my sister up from jail. (Also, my sister was a minor.) she wanted to know why we were stealing so much baby formula from the store. I had to sit her down and explain that we sold the formula to corner stores in Baltimore. Of course, she was perplexed as to why we would be needing to do this at all. I then had to tell her that I was using the funds to buy heroin and crack. Yeah, that was fun.
She immediately signed my sister and I up for the juvenile outpatient program at Mountain Manor rehab facility. I remember doing my intake interview with a counselor there. I was explaining to him how I didn’t need to be there, at it was all my mother’s idea. I explained at I could get high for two weeks straight and then do nothing for a month. Or I would get high two to three days a week for two months straight. I was never sick. I didn’t need heroin, I just liked it. I could stop if I wanted to. See, while I may be smart enough not to let YOU trick me, I will easily allow my own brain to trick me. When the counselor asked me if I thought that I could keep this pattern of using and abstinence up forever, I told him that I knew that I could. I was an honor student at one of the top 25 schools in the country, drugs would not take over my life.
Oh how wrong I was. That’s the thing, heroin doesn’t care how smart, or nice, or pretty you are. It will fuck your life up all the same. I think that my brain, my intelligence, was ultimately a reason to get high. I quickly discovered that when I was ripped as balls, my brain slowed down. My thoughts stopped whirling at 200 mph. I stopped stressing, over-thinking, and questioning everything. For a brief period of time, I was able to stop hating myself. I was able to take a break from thinking about all the reasons why I hated myself.
I read a study that was saying that higher intelligence lead to higher addiction rates. Over time the humans that have survived, that have succeeded have been the people that were willing to try new things. People with higher intelligence are more likely to try drugs as apart of their mission to try everything. The problem is that it is hard to just do drugs a few times. I think it also comes from people needing to shut their brains up for a brief period of time. It is a vacation from your own mind. If you Google “geniuses with drug problems”, it is surprising how many people are listed.
It is important to realize that NO ONE is too smart to be sucked in by addiction. The smartest thing one can do is to understand that you are not smart enough to control heroin or meth or coke and it’s potential control over your life. Once the drug has you, you make what outsiders will view has stupid choices. These are really calculated risks that you are taking. For example, you know that stealing is illegal and you could get arrested, but you scope out the scene and decide that the risk is not all that high and they are odds that you are comfortable. You are willing to take that risk because while there may be a small chance that you could be arrested and then get time if you commit this crime, or you could be arrested for actually buying your drug if choice, there is a 100% chance that you will be sick as fuck if you don’t come up with money somehow and purchase the drugs.
I’m not saying that I didn’t do some dumb shit while getting high, I most definitely did. What I am saying is the things that look like such dumb actions, my arrests and convictions for example, are really times that I rolled the dice and lost. Obviously, the arrests are just the tip of the iceberg of things that I regret, but that is a whole other bag of worms.
Really, at the end of the day, what I am trying to say is, people far smarter than you or I have fallen victim to the trap of drugs. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can control drugs or control your life while using drugs, you can’t, they will control you.
It was a bitter cold January morning in Sandtown that day. Aaron and I were crouched down in my Chevy Cavalier, with the engine off so that the car would not emit smoke out of the muffler. We were just two of the hundred or so waiting for Flatline to start hitting.
Flatline was a white fentanyl-based dope. It was good, really, really good. It was great because it took Aaron and mine’s thousand dollar a day habit and cut in a third. The problem was that no other dope got you high. If Flatline was on hold to long, or if the police came and locked up everyone on the block for the day, twice as much of another dope would just barely get you well.
Most people waiting for them to yell, “Flatline in the hole”, would hang out in the little corner stores or liquor stores, or abandoned row houses. Being as though we were lacking in skin pigmentation we waited in the car. You had to be fast when they started hitting, as they would sell out in like five to ten minutes flat, never hitting more than half of the line. Then they went on hold for another hour or two.
Being white added additional risks. Anyone who gets caught walking out of a hole (or an abandoned alley) is fucked. If you are black though, once you get out of the alley on to the street, you are basically fine. Those of us that are fairer, are a walking target all the way to the car. Even then,you are not really safe. If a cop sees you white ass driving around in Sandtown, you are getting pulled. They will figure out a reason for why they pulled you over later. Total racial profiling. Maybe this is why I am so sensitive and disgusted by racial profiling, I have had it happen to me. At least though I am the race that is the majority in most parts of this country and only would face it in Baltimore. I don’t face it every time I go to the airport or am in an upper or middle class neighborhood.
Aaron and I had our little routine. Flatline was the only dope that we could not only get well, but get HIGH off of just one pill. Every morning we would ball in town, cop two, get well and then go out boosting to get money for drugs for the rest of the day.
After we would cop everyday, we would go to the same BP and pull up to the same pump, pump one. Aaron would start cooking up the dope while I went to pay for gas. It was always the same dude working. He would always have my Tropicana peach papaya juice ready for me, and new what pump we were using. I would start to pump the gas, and leave the pump in the car as we got on.
It worked, but we had no tint, and sometimes it would take us an awfully long time to find a vein. One time we had a really close call. Since we didn’t want to sit at the pump any longer than we had to, Aaron would pull off as soon as we were done and I would clean the tools (needles) as we were driving. One day after we got on, we were waiting to turn on to Franklin Road, when a cop car drove by. It had a white female and a black male, and they practically broke their necks looking at us as they drove by. Sure enough they got right behind us. I had no time to put the tools or cooker away, and I couldn’t throw them out the window, so I dropped them under the seat. Within 15 seconds, the lights and sirens went on. They said that they pulled us over because Aaron didn’t have his seat belt on the entire time, but that was bullshit. Aaron was buckling it while we were still at the gas station, as they drove by. They pulled us because we were white. After she looked at our IDs, which stated that we were from Howard County all of 20 minutes away, the first thing the lady asked us was, “What are you doing here?” I thought this was America not Iraq, but we were white in an area that wasn’t. “We were just getting gas and going back home”, we told her. She instantly pulled us out of the car. “Are their any drugs in the car? Is there anything that can cut me, poke me, scratch me?”, she asked. “No drugs,” I responded, “but there are two needles under the passengers seat with no caps on them, so be careful.” By now the backup arrived. “Be careful!” She exclaimed to the other officers, “There’s needles everywhere and none of them have caps on!” This was of course a gross exaggeration. There was not needles everywhere without caps. There were two needles without caps, the others had caps on and were inside of the pink sarin Chanel bag that I kept the cooker, needles, ties, alcohol wipes, water, etc. in. Most people are probably wondering why I so easily told the officer that there was needles in the car, and where they were. The answer is that in Baltimore the don’t lock people up for needles (crack pipes are a different story). The jails are far too overcrowded as it is to lock up people for a crime that only carriers at the max a $500 fine. Now, if the cop had pricked herself with one of those needles, we would have been arrested for sure. We would have been charged with assault on an officer at the minimum, and I have known people who have been charged with attempted murder for similar situations. The AIDS rate in Baltimore is so high, that they fear being poked with a dirty needle more than most things. After we were both thoroughly searched, we sat on the curb and watched the three of them tear my car apart, getting angrier by the second that they could not find any drugs. “There has to be drugs in here. They have the cooker, the tools out,” she said. “Unless they just did them,” the black officer told her. “Just tell us where they are,” she pleaded with me. “I told you, there are no drugs. We just shoot up at the gas station.” Finally after about 45 minutes, she have up. “Get the fuck out of here. If I catch you all around here again, I’ll lock you up on some petty ass paraphernalia bullshit.”
The point of this anecdote is to illustrate that it was always a little risky getting high at the gas station. We faced the car away from the road, but still, had those cops drove by three minutes earlier, we may have been fucked.
So on that particular January day, Aaron came back to the car with this short, balding white dude in his mid-forties. “This is Stewie. He says he’s got a place on Fulton. If we give him a ride home, we can get on at his place.” “Get in,” I say.
We arrive at his house, a blue four level, beat up row house. “I’m in the basement,” he told us as we went inside. We followed him into the basement into something that I had never seen before, but saw many times afterwards. It looked like a homeless shelter. There was probably six people that lived just in the basement. Beds, cots, and sleeping bags were strewn haphazardly all over the concrete floor. Next to every bed, each person had all of there belongings, which were shockingly few. Each person had a few backpacks and bags. In the far corner, there was a card table and three chairs where two men where playing cards. There was a tv on nearby ( this was in 2004 before you had to have a HD TV, cable, or a converter box to watch television). He lead us to a bed right in the middle of everything, ” “This is me”, he told us. He proceeded to introduce us to everyone in the room, all of who were friendly and polite. After we got on Stewie asked us if we would take us to go buy some ready. “Sure,” I responded, “but is there a bathroom that I can use?” “Third floor. I’ll take you.” We were in the basement, so the third floor was actually four levels up. I was stunned as I made my way through the house. Every bedroom, living room, office was rented out. There were people sleeping, living everywhere except for the bathroom and the kitchen. There was probably 30 people living there. In the master bedroom next to the bathroom sat the lady who owned the house, Mary. Stewie introduced me and told her that I needed to use the bathroom. “Go ahead,” she said.
That house was the first time that I had seen something like that, but I went on to discover how common it was. Someone will get a house or an apartment through Section 8 and pay $50 to $100 a month. They then charge everyone $10 a night to sleep there. It’s not a bad hustle.
After I used the restroom, we loaded up the Cavalier to get the ready. “Where you want to go?” Aaron asked. “Po homes,” was the answer we got. We took him to the Po homes, a large section of projects. We went into a court yard that was essentially an open air drug market. Dudes were yelling the names of their respective dope or coke as we walked by. Since we had never copped there before, we let Stewie take the lead. We got these 20s of ready that were HUGE. We were hooked. We went on to cop there all the time for awhile and showed it to everyone. Funnily enough, everyone that we showed the PO homes to got locked up there, except for us. See since the projects are government property, they can automatically arrest you for trespassing unless you live there. You don’t have to be dirty.
After we were done getting high, and before we left, Stewie asked us if we would pick us up that night and take us out to make money. We responded in the affirmative and we came pack at around midnight. We took him to an upscale neighborhood where he would go in driveways and go into unlocked cars. You would be shocked at not only how many people keep their cars unlocked, but how much they keep in those unlocked cars. Cash, credit cards, electronics, Rolex watches. It was shocking. It was never necessary to brake into anything. Actually, you want to make sure not to break into anything as that is another, much more serious offense. Some people even leave the keys for the car in the ignition. One day after we hadn’t seen Stewie in awhile, we saw him at Flatline in an Acura that he had obtained in such manner. Driving or riding around in stolen vehicles always scared me far too much to ever even get in a car that some one else stole, let alone steal one myself.
We hung out with Stewie everyday for a few weeks. One day we showed up and he wasn’t there. He didn’t have a cell phone and we stopped seeing him, hanging out with him. The last time we saw him was that day at Flatline, where he was in the Acura. Sometime in 2007, the house that he lived in burned down, and I have no idea whatever happened to Stewie, just another name, another face in the story of my life.